Praise for high school teachers More and more strong careers in
chemistry will begin in high school
A great many able chemists and chemical engi-neers have entered their profession because of the influence of teachers. Reverence for a master somewhere in one's academic back-ground is something of a cult spirit among chem-ists. Yet excellence in teaching chemistry has had but a small share of the formal recognition that kindles the glow of prestige around a pur-suit. Recognition is especially rare at the high school level, where most promising careers in science must start today.
All this makes especially gratifying the James Bryant Conant Awards in High School Chemis-try Teaching, presented this year for the first time to six teachers at the Miami Beach ACS meeting. The combination of responsibility and opportunity faced by the high school chemistry teacher can hardly be given too much respect.
As principal speaker at the ACS Awards Dinner in Miami Beach, Dr. T. L. Cairns of Du Pont (C&EN, April 17, page 23) offered his audience some critical views on what too often is not being done with what is available. He suggested that high school teachers not only should inspire and stimulate students with chemistry from a modern point of view, but also should make a. strong con-tribution toward ensuring that those who do not become scientists are scientifically literate.
The future chemist now entering high school
will go from the university into a world strongly different from his father's. So much technology will be at work that a pace of change staggering to us today will be accepted as standard. And probably anything short of what is today regarded as exceptional will be taken for granted. It will mean that the well-educated chemist will need a good understanding of the world around him to get on well, to make the contribution for which he has the potential. Too few have that today. As a result we see an unfortunate num-ber of minds of good intelligence trained in chemistry but not educated to make best use of their abilities to find in this world the kind of satisfaction the intelligent being seeks and needs.
The challenge of getting chemists started on the right path is formidable. They need not only a high momentum in scientific understanding as they enter college, but also some appreciation of the way the human, emotional world works. For all our technology, the human element is the one that will run the world; certainly it will exercise control over scientists who do not make a serious effort to understand and cope with it.
MAY 1, 1967 C&EN 5
EDITORIALPraise for high school teachers